Texas leaders and health officials discuss the need for mask mandates


"You put your seatbelt on, because you know it can save your life. Put your mask on, because it can do the same thing."

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ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Less than 36 hours after encouraging “personal responsibility,” Mayor Patrick Payton changed course by putting forth a mask mandate ordinance to be discussed during the next city council meeting.

Local leaders are encouraging residents to do their part, but some are doubtful about how effectively the mandate can be enforced.

“To be able to enforce it, it would be more on the businesses,” said Odessa Mayor, David Turner. “I don’t know how we can enforce it. We don’t have the man power,” added Midland County Judge, Terry Johnson.

Meanwhile, area health officials say masks are effective, and anything to help mitigate the spread is necessary as we head towards a dire future.

“You’re going to have to come together as leaders, and make some difficult choices whether it’s popular or not. It should be mandatory for everybody if you know it could save a life,” said Dr. Rohith Saravanan with Odessa Regional Medical Center.

Saravanan says our communities are seeing the worst spike since the pandemic. That determination depends on two things: positivity and hospitalization rates. For reference, less than ten people out of 100 tested are coming back positive in cities like Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. That number in Ector County is 35.

“Trying to force people into wearing a mask is kind of like forcing people to put their seatbelt on in the car. You put your seatbelt on, because you know it can save your life. Put your mask on, because it can do the same thing,” said CEO, Russell Tippin with MCH.

The mask mandate ordinance put forth by Mayor Payton would require all commerical businesses to make their customers wear a facemask. Failure to do so can cost the businesses up to $500 in fines.

“We don’t have those mandates in place, and we don’t have the population following through with the recommendations fully. So ask the questions you need to, make a good decision, and try to do your best to support, not just yourself, but also your neighbors and your entire community,” said Saravanan.

The Midland City Council will meet again for its regular monthly meeting on November 17th.

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